When the Slightest Disappointments Create Acute Distress

May 04, 2022

Birthday celebrations. What images come to mind reading those words just now? Do you remember looking forward to celebrating your special day as a child, or are there clouded memories of disappointment? For years our son, Rylan, began anticipating his birthday celebration right after the Christmas holidays. Typically when that magical day arrived, his nervous system was wound so tight with expectations, the slightest disappointment would trigger the aroused sympathetic branch of his system into acute distress.   

As distress levels build up in children, a hormonal chain reaction is set in motion and their bodies are primed for action. High levels of stress hormones wash over the brain and body, and there is a withdrawal of the chemicals that promote feelings of well-being, the pain circuits in the brain are activated, just as they would be if the child were hurt physically.   

I remember previous years when upon hearing that his friend could not come to...

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